Why We Launched MN Girls Are Not For Sale

Since our founding in 1983, the Women’s Foundation of Minnesota has served as a catalyst for social change to achieve equity for all women and girls. Our work to advance safety and security and stories from our grantee-partners and colleagues in the state’s criminal justice system informed our growing concern about the sex trafficking of girls in Minnesota.

We quickly learned that sex trafficking is both complex and systemic, its causes deeply rooted in gender and economic inequity, while its effects and opportunities for prevention exist within a complex, cross-sector field of public agencies, businesses, nonprofit service providers, and the public. Using a collective impact framework – which assumes that no one sector can single-handedly move the dial alone on complex, systemic social and economic issues – we exercised our positional leadership as a statewide community foundation with statewide reach to identify key stakeholders and convene the field.

In 2010, we convened over 100 leaders from all over Minnesota – donors, elected officials, state agencies, philanthropies, advocates, corporations, law enforcement, judges, faith communities, and many others – and created a strategic, multi-sector blueprint to combat child sex trafficking.

This blueprint resulted in MN Girls Are Not For Sale, our five year, $5 million campaign launched in November 2011 to galvanize resources to end the sex trafficking of Minnesota girls and boys through grantmaking, research, public education, and convening.

 What We Hoped to Achieve

Phase 1 of MN Girls had three goals:

  • Redefine sex-trafficked minors as victims of a crime, and ensure access to specialized housing and treatment.
  • Decrease demand for child sex trafficking through effective law enforcement and policies.
  • Educate and mobilize public support and activism to end child sex trafficking.

As of April 2016, the MN Girls campaign fully achieved Goal 1, produced original research that began to address the demand side of the issue (Goal 2), and engaged and mobilized the public to end child sex trafficking (Goal 3).

We Drove a Sea Change in Less Than Five Years

The success of the MN Girls campaign and critical impact it has had on the work to end child sex trafficking is undeniable. With cross-sector leaders, the Women’s Foundation invested over $6 million and drove a sea change in our communities’ response to this unconscionable and haunting violence against children.

Key MN Girls (Phase 1) Successes

  • Went from zero state funding in 2011 to a state-funded infrastructure of $13.1 million (May 2017). Minnesota is first in the nation to provide state funding for sex trafficking victims.
  • Increased housing and trauma-informed care for victims, from two beds in 2011 to 48 beds (May 2016).
  • Outreach to Minnesota’s Congressional delegation in Washington, D.C. resulted in federal sex trafficking legislation (2015), modeled after Minnesota’s Safe Harbor law.

Please visit our Successes page for more information on the victories achieved.

What’s Next?

In January 2015, as a result of our Phase 1 (April 1, 2011-March 31, 2016) success and community demand for continued progress on this issue, the Foundation’s Board of Trustees, extended MN Girls to a second phase (April 1, 2016 – March 31, 2019), based on stakeholder input and calls from the community for the Foundation’s continued leadership.

MN Girls (Phase 2) Goals:

  1. Reduce demand for sex trafficking.
  2. Create prevention strategies to reduce vulnerability to sex trafficking.
  3. Increase visibility, outreach and services to targeted, underserved communities.
  4. Build systems and infrastructure to sustain movement to end sex trafficking.

Stay connected with our campaign on Facebook and on Twitter.